I’m back at Monadnock after taking last week off; a week of heavy reading, projects around the house, (scheduled) doctor’s appointments, playing with the dogs, listening to my NY Giants dismantle the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, and reflecting on the absolute perfection of The Ramones’ 1977 album, “Rocket To Russia”. While I also had some hikes on the agenda, the weather wasn’t very conducive on my off time to take in many of them. But, my wife and I did squeeze in a hike over at Pack Monadnock Mountain at Miller State Park in Peterborough, where I was able to enjoy the view…of work!
I was welcomed back to work on Wednesday with an early evening rescue of two hikers caught out and lost on the mountain after dark. Kids, your cell phone is not an actual flashlight! And, as I reminded them on this fairly easy assist, you do not want your only source of light and your only source of communication with the outside world to run on the same battery!
Well, for a guy who enjoys winter hiking, it looks like I may have taken the wrong week off. Monadnock’s trails are currently clear of snow, are mostly dry, and have some patches and stretches of light ice here and there. Conditions will remain that way through Saturday where what is being referred to as a “moisture starved cold front” will bring some dry, but colder temperatures into the Monadnock Region.
You may not need them, depending on your trail(s) of choice, but pack those Microspikes anyways…and real flashlights or headlamps.
By Sunday, precipitation of some wintry form or another will hit at Monadnock. The timing and make up of the precipitation is still a question, but we could see periods of freezing rain, sleet, and/or snow move in through Wednesday. If all goes well, the colder temperatures and a favorable pattern will give us snow, which could accumulate to significant amounts, particularly Monday and Tuesday. Keep your eye on the forecasts and plan your hikes and travels accordingly and appropriately.
Hopefully, by the time of the Trails Report next week (“Doomsday Edition”!), perhaps Grand Monadnock will have its first base of snow for the upcoming winter and/or apocalypse.
However, if the snow doesn’t come, I hope we don’t see any conditions like the ones we saw in 2008…
This Week In Monadnock History
December 12, 2008- I can still vividly remember awakening in the middle of the night to the tremendous sound of the forest falling down around the house at the base of Monadnock, terrified that any moment a tree would come crashing through the bedroom roof.
I also clearly remember walking around Monadnock Headquarters at first daylight the next morning, taking in the overwhelming sights, and beginning to plan and set into motion a course of action to clear the damage that would take months to complete.
An overnight ice storm following 2 days of rain caused massive damage to the Monadnock Region, southern New Hampshire, western Massachusetts, and Eastern upstate New York. Fallen and uprooted trees and snapping tree tops and branches created hazardous conditions and the largest power outage in New Hampshire state history. Due to public safety concerns, all hiking trails on Mt. Monadnock were immediately closed until they could be evaluated and cleared. It takes two full days just to re-open the mile and a quarter long Poole Memorial Road leading into Monadnock Headquarters. On day three, December 14th, the staff started to clear the White Dot Trail.
The storm caused the worst single-storm damage to Mt. Monadnock since the Hurricane of 1938, although the western and southwestern sides of the mountain were largely unscathed. Electricity was not restored for another 15 days at the park. Monadnock staff members worked mostly on cutting and clearing debris and downed, leaning, or dangerous trees in public areas and on the trails by hiking to work sites carrying chainsaw equipment and fuel by hand, pack, or sled. The first trails to be cleared were the White Dot and White Cross Trails, which were re-opened to the public on January 17th, 2009. The other hiking trails re-opened as park crews completed their work.
The last remaining closed hiking trail to re-open is the Birchtoft Trail, re-opening on May 30th. The campground at Headquarters re-opened on May 8th. The X-C ski trails are not cleared until July 2009, with help of the Society For The Protection Of New Hampshire Forests and volunteers during Monadnock Trails Week. Skiers used the trail system again during the winter of 2009-10.
In all, it is estimated by FEMA that Monadnock staff handled and cleared over 6,200 cubic yards of trees and debris from the mountain’s trails and took over 750 man hours from about six staff members to clean up from the storm.
Let’s hope next week’s weather and the “Mayan Doomsday” are kinder to our mountain.